Pulse (Collide, #2)(11)

The sour truth tumbled from her mouth as her mind replayed the self-inflicted pain she’d allowed from Dillon as punishment for her actions and indecision. As much as she loved Gavin, she refused to subject herself to Colton’s accusations of her enjoying anything from that hideous evening. Fumbling out of her chair, she brought her hand to her chest. “You have no idea how much I love your brother. I can’t breathe without him. I haven’t slept. I’ve barely eaten. No, I didn’t believe him at first. I couldn’t. I opened the door that morning to his past when I thought I was his future. It killed me. My instincts told me to run, and so I did, and now we’re both suffering for it.”

Cupping her hand over her mouth, Emily looked down to the ground, her heart throbbing. She slowly brought her attention back to Colton, her frantic green eyes begging. “I don’t know if he’ll take me back, and I don’t expect him to. I don’t know if he’ll even look at me, because I can barely look at myself. What I do know is I need to see him. I need to tell him how sorry I am. Even if it means putting myself out there without knowing any of those things, I have to do it.” Emily drew in a gulp of air, her eyes narrowing. “But don’t you dare tell me I don’t love him because you’re wrong.”

Eyes no longer smug, understanding and compassion filled Colton’s features. Rising, he grabbed a pen and a sticky note. After scribbling something onto it, he rounded the corner of his desk and handed her the tiny piece of paper. “Here’s the address to his house and a beachside bar you’ll probably find him hanging out at.” Colton dug into his pants pocket and pulled out his wallet. After thumbing through some cash, a smile pulled at the edge of his mouth. “Though I wasn’t too fond of you earlier, I’m not going to let you foot the bill to go down there for the little wiseass.” Colton reached for Emily’s hand and tucked the money into it. “It’s not my style.”

Looking at the cash, Emily sniffled. She shook her head. “I can’t take this. It’s enough you’re letting me know where he is.” She attempted to give it back.

“I insist.” He lightly pushed her hand away. “Besides, it’s only a few hundred bucks. I’ll charter the jet to bring you down there, and I’ll make sure everything else is taken care of, including your hotel.” Colton cleared his throat and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Though I hope otherwise, we need to go with the assumption that… well, he might not be thrilled with you showing up.”

Emily swallowed tightly and nodded. As she gathered her belongings, she tried to push that haunting fact from her thoughts, but she knew making a move like this was something she might have to face. After slipping on her coat, she stared at Colton for a moment. “Have you heard from him at all?”

“No.” Colton shook his head. “Not yet.”

Fear scissored through her stomach. “How do you know he made it down there? Something could’ve happened to him.”

“Believe me, I know my brother. Nothing’s happened to him.” Assurance spun through his tone as he walked Emily to the door. “He’s the only one who’ll do harm to himself.”

With her mouth parting and worry lines cinching her brows, Emily’s eyes widened. “You don’t think he’d—”

“No. No,” Colton interrupted, a grin twisting his lips. “That came across the wrong way. Forget what I said.” The tension in Emily’s shoulders scattered like leaves in the wind. With his voice low, his grin fell away. “I apologize for my crudeness. He’s my kid brother, and even though he’s a diehard Yankees fan, which I loathe because I’m a diehard Mets fan, I kind of dig him.”

“I kind of dig him, too,” Emily whispered, staring at her feet. She brought her gaze back to Colton’s eyes, traces of Gavin lingering in them. “I really do.”

“I know, but you don’t have to convince me. You have to get down there and prove it to him. I’ll have my assistant call you with the information you’ll need.”

Emily hugged her purse to her chest, her eyes swimming with gratitude. “Thank you, Colton.”

Colton nodded and pulled open the door.

Making her way out, tears trickled down Emily’s cheeks. As she stood once again in the elevator where it’d all started, a mixture of relief and fear flooded Emily’s body. A dangerous storm ricocheted through her nerves, escalating her heart rate. Still, though doubt about showing up unannounced in an attempt to salvage any relationship with Gavin strained through her muscles, Emily knew she couldn’t add any more numbers to the growing seconds passing, keeping them apart.


The setting Caribbean sun cast low shadows against mosaic tiles lining a small outdoor bar on the beach. Sitting on the southernmost tip of 5th Avenue, Gavin knew the place well and frequented it each time he visited the area. Smoke lazily wended up from a fiery grill, the drifting aroma of shrimp tacos and tamales filled the air. With warm winds kicking up, Gavin’s broken heart raced in rhythm with the waves crashing against the sand as he took in the sights and sounds around him.

Steel drums playing down the beach hummed through his ears as vacationers finished up a game of volleyball on the hot sand. Women with bodies to die for slapped layer upon layer of suntan lotion across their surgically-enhanced breasts. A toddler skipped into the turquoise water, and his father ran after him. Eventually picking him up, he spun the child around. The little boy let out a gut-belly laugh, his head undoubtedly dizzy. The corners of Gavin’s mouth turned up a small smile while he watched them play. The man scurried out of the water, his son tucked tightly under his arm, and set the little boy on the sand next to his mother, abruptly interrupting her few peaceful moments.

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